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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: writer wednesday, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Writer Wednesday: Thanksgiving Edition

Since tomorrow is thanksgiving, I thought I'd share what I'm thankful for this year. These are in no particular order, and I'm sure I'm forgetting people so I'll apologize in advance for that.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for:
  • my family who is so supportive of the crazy author/editor lifestyle I've chosen
  • my friends who accept that I ignore them when I'm in my writing or editing bubble
  • my writer friends who truly know how tough this business is and endure it alongside me
  • my amazing street team, Kelly's Coven, who shares every step of this journey and helps me make decisions about author logos, book settings, and so much more 
  • my agent who keeps me sane when I just want to scream and cry, which has been more than I'd like to admit
  • my social media manager, Amber, who always has brilliant ideas about how to spread the word about my books
  • my readers, whether they've been with me from the start or have just discovered my books
  • my newsletter subscribers for actually wanting to hear from me every month to see what I'm up to
  • the schools who have invited me to speak and share what I do for a living
  • my editing clients who allow me to make some money to pay bills and allow me to work on some really amazing books
  • bookstores who invite me to sign and who also carry my books on the shelves so I can take pictures of them out in the wild
  • my social media followers who put up with my posts about my crazy Shep-hound dog, my adorable daughter, all my books, The Walking Dead, my love of Jensen Ackles, and my Jamberry nail obsession
  • Limitless books for being so amazing to work with and for putting out Our Little Secret and the entire Into the Fire trilogy
  • my editors and beta readers for making me a better writer
  • bloggers and book reviewers who take the time to review and share my books with others...
I could keep going, but this is getting kind of long. And the really nice thing is that amidst all the struggles I encounter in this industry, seeing all these great people I have to be thankful for makes me really grateful that I decided to pursue this career.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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2. Writer Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Tips

Even though I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, I do love to fast draft so I figured I'd share some tips for anyone who needs a little push to get over that middle slump that sometimes creeps up when we're drafting.
  • Keep momentum  I'm going to start with this one because we all know that the excitement of NaNo drives you in the beginning, but it's tough to keep that excitement up mid-month. The key is to keep going. Don't slack on those word count goals. Keep up the pace you've been maintaining.
  • Don't be afraid to jump around  If you get stuck on a scene, skip it and go back to it later. Keep pushing ahead. Sometimes when the middle starts to get to me, I jump ahead to the climax because it's exciting and fast paced. That gets me into the groove again and keeps the words flowing.
  • Set small goals  Daily word count goals can sometimes be overwhelming. Break them up into what you want to write in a twenty-minute span. Setting short goals, means you'll feel a sense of accomplishment sooner, and that can motivate you to keep going and write more.
  • Reward yourself  You know that cookie you're dying to eat. How about after you reach 1,000 words? Give yourself a reason to want to get those words down and then reward yourself for a job well done.
  • Share your goals and progress  When I ran competitively, one of the things I did before a race was tell everyone what time I wanted to run. If they knew my target time, I'd feel accountable because I knew they'd ask me if I met it. Tell people your goals and then check in with your progress. Don't let writing be a solitary experience.
  • Feed off the energy of others and inspire others just the same  Feeling like you're in a slump? Don't post about that. Encourage others to keep going and let them do the same for you. Think positively. Cheering on others just may spark some creativity in yourself.

Good luck NaNoWriMo participants! You can do this. Keep those fingers flying across the keys.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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3. Writer Wednesday: Authors Are Human

Something that always amazes me when I go to an event, whether it be a conference, a convention, or just a one-author book signing, is that people look at authors like they aren't regular people. Some might argue we aren't exactly normal (and I'm okay with that), but we are in fact human just like everyone else.

I've seen teens gush about meeting authors, and I've gushed about meeting authors, too. But when I gush it's because I'm in the presence of someone who's book changed my life in some way. Not because I thought this author was actually a superhuman posing as a mere mortal.

Now, those of you who follow me on Facebook or who read my most recent Monday Mishmash post know I had quite the accident-prone week. I had to laugh because my mom told me I had to stop posting about my accidents online or people might think I'm not the most intelligent person. There's a reason I post these things for all to see. These little quirks about me show I'm human. I'm not a robot sitting behind a computer screen typing away my latest book. I'm a real human being who tends to hurt herself and embarrass herself quite often. But I have a good sense of humor and I can laugh at myself. And I graduated college with honors, so I'm not worried about my intelligence either. ;)

I'm just me. I want people to see the real me and know they can approach me. That's why I love interacting online. So will I continue to share my little quirks online? Yes, I will. How about you? Do you share your imperfections online for others to see?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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4. Writer Wednesday: Pointing Out Errors

Today's topic comes from Rick Starkey. Rick asked:
"I sometimes read books of others and leave reviews. I know that errors can slip through the publishing process, but should these be mentioned to the author? Is it fixable in the ebook version? Can it be fixed before the print version is printed? Or is it something the author probably already knows about and has to accept?"

This is a tricky subject, and here's why. A lot of authors, including me, refuse to read the finished book once it's out in the world. The reason is we are afraid of finding things we'll want to change. There comes a point where you have to accept the book is finished. Personally, I don't want to read my book and find a missing comma or typo. I'd cry because I know how much editing goes into all my books. But…editors are humans too. We do occasionally make mistakes. It's been proven that the human brain can read misspelled words and even insert missing words into sentences. Things happen. Even after you have an entire team of editors reading your book.

So, do you as a reader point out an error to the author? Well, if he/she is traditionally published, the print and ebook probably released simultaneously, which means that the first print run is already done. Those books cannot be changed. Things can be updated before the second print run, though. But ask yourself how you'd feel as the author if you knew thousands of copies of your book were in the hands of readers and that those copies contained an error. It's not a good feeling.

However… Did you know that was coming? If the author is self-published and/or using print on demand, these fixes are much easier. Files can be updated and there aren't thousands of print copies all over with mistakes in them. So telling an author in this situation could be very helpful to the author and publisher (if there is one).

But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, if you do find errors and feel the need to tell the author, do two things. First, make sure you are correct. Are you 110% certain it's an error? Second, contact the author PRIVATELY. Let me say that again. Contact the author PRIVATELY. Do not tell them in a review on Amazon or on their FB wall.

So, Rick, I hope that answers your question.

If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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5. Writer Wednesday: Goodreads

Recently, I've seen quite a few authors comment about Goodreads, and not in a positive way. So today I want to talk about Goodreads. As authors, we tend to look at review sites as places we should be, but in actuality these sites are for readers to share their opinions. You have to remember that.

Here's how I use Goodreads. I have my blog linked to Goodreads, which means I get comments on my posts there. I happily go on and respond to those comments. I also have the "Ask the Author" section activated so readers can communicate with me. I love talking to readers this way, and it's great because Goodreads emails you to let you know you have a message. These are my favorite features on Goodreads.

Now let me tell you how I DON'T use Goodreads. I don't ever comment on negative reviews or ratings. Have you ever noticed that books tend to have more reviews on Goodreads than on Amazon or any other site? Goodreads is for reviews. But those reviews aren't there for the authors. They're for other readers. We all know there are a lot of people on Goodreads who simply rate books without reviewing them or who really slam authors. Do I like this? No, of course not. But don't engage with those readers who rate your book before it's out just to give you a low star rating. Or with those readers who hate your book with a fiery passion. Don't do it.

So this is my plea to please use Goodreads in a good way. It has some great features, but it can also be a potential setting for bad blood. Don't fall victim to the latter.

If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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6. Writer Wednesday: Teaming Up With Other Authors

It's no secret that I'm a huge proponent of authors supporting other authors, but today I want to take that one step further and talk about authors teaming up with other authors. This is such a great way to help each other promote and to reach a new audience. This week, I'm teaming up with 11 other YA authors to bring readers a huge giveaway. It's great for the readers, and it's great for the authors too because we are reaching new potential fans and sharing our fan bases with each other. If you haven't yet teamed up with other authors like this, I'd encourage you to try it. And before you go, check out the giveaway and be sure to enter. There are so many prizes to win!

First, here are the participating authors:

Now for the prizes. There will be a winner for each prize. Yes, that means there are a ton of chances to win!


2 $40 gift cards
eBook of PERFECT FOR YOU by Ashelyn Drake
eBook of FINE ART OF PRETENDING by Rachel Harris
eBook of SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE by Elana Johnson
eBook of ELEVATED by Elana Johnson
eBook of PLAYING WITH FIRE by Sherry Ficklin
One of the GUARDIANS OF GALAXY books by Ednah Walters
RITE OF REJECTION by Sarah Negovetich
4 copies of THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY by Lauren Morrill
eBook set of THE DARK BETRAYAL Trilogy by Nichole Chase

eBook of TOUCHING SMOKE by Airicka Phoenix
eBook of DAUGHTER OF CHAOS by Jen McConnel

You can enter on my Facebook page or on the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway is international and will run from November 9th to November 15th. Good luck!

Giveaway hosted by Ashelyn Drake. 

More info about Ashelyn can be found below: 

Ashelyn is a pen name for Kelly Hashway. Kelly grew up reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street novels and writing stories of her own, so it was no surprise to her family when she majored in English and later obtained a masters degree in English Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University. After teaching middle school language arts for seven years, Hashway went back to school and focused specifically on writing. She is now the author of three young adult series, one middle grade series, and several picture books. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she isn’t writing, Hashway works as a freelance editor for small presses as well as for her own list of clients. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling, and volunteering with the PTO. Hashway currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and two pets.

*Sign up for Ashelyn's newsletter to stay current on her new releases: http://bit.ly/1tRQqzg

Join her street team, Kelly’s Coven, for exclusive giveaways, ARCs, and to chat with her: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KellysCoven/

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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7. Writer Wednesday: Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Summer is always tough for me. My daughter is home, which means being Mom takes up most of my days. My new job as an acquisitions editor added more work to my already full plate. On top of that, I'm booked solid with my own editing clients for the rest of 2015. So yeah, I haven't been writing as much. But things are going to change soon.

School begins on Monday, and that means I'll be working full days again. My plan is to devote mornings to me and afternoons to Seek. Splitting my day up will allow me time to edit for my clients and write for me, while still handling my duties for Leap Books. Or at least that's the plan. ;)

I'm going to miss my daughter though. She's my buddy. There's nothing I love more than being with her, but I know she is excited to start a new school year (Third grade already? How did she get so big?) and see all of her friends again. So here's to a great start to the school year and life getting back to a routine.

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8. Writer Wednesday: How to Land in an Editor's "No Way!" Pile

Today's topic came from Sherry Alexander, who wanted to know what lands and author in an editor's "No Way!" pile. These are things that I've seen that got the author's automatic rejections or caused me to delete their submission without reading it.

Beginning your query with "I know you're not open to unagented submissions, but I'm hoping you'll make an exception for me."
This one really gets me, and here's why. You are making it clear that you believe you're somehow better than all the other authors who want to query me. Grr. Don't ever disrespect another author in front of me. Just don't do it. I hate to see any author putting another author down. And if you think you deserve an exception to the rule but others don't, that's exactly what you're doing. Automatic delete without even reading the query.

Claiming you met me at a conference and that I welcomed you to submit your book.
This was a bad year for me, in that I didn't get to attend any conferences. However, I've gotten queries from people claiming they met me at conferences. Now maybe it's a simple case of mistaken identity. Maybe the editor you met has a similar name. (There are no other Kelly Hashways. I've checked.) But, I'm kind of thinking this person decided to gamble and assume I was at a big SCBWI conference and was busy meeting so many authors I wouldn't remember them all by name. Don't start a relationship off on a lie. Just don't. I don't like liars. Automatic delete without even reading the query.

Forgetting to tell me about your book in your query.
This is your big chance to wow me. You get one page to grab my attention. Why on earth wouldn't you tell me about your book? Editors are very busy. I won't tell you how many books are sitting on my Kindle waiting for me to read them. I'm embarrassed by it. But we are so busy! Your query is what tells me if I'm interested enough in your story to read some of it. Form letter rejection.

Saying your book is better than "Insert Best-seller Title Here"
Again, do NOT put down another author in front of me. I don't care if you're the best writer in the world. Don't do it! Form letter rejection.

I'm sure I'll come across other things the longer I edit, but please for the love of books do not do any of these things when you query. Editors WANT to find books they love in their query inboxes. We do. We want to love you and your book, but our time is very limited. Don't get yourself rejected before we even get to chapter one.

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9. Writer Wednesday: The Dreaded Synopsis

Today's topic came courtesy of Sherry Alexander again. Thank you, Sherry, for offering such great topic suggestions. Sherry wanted to know what an editor wants in a synopsis.

During Seek's open submissions last month, I requested the query, first three chapters, and a synopsis. Now, I'm going to be honest. I only read a few synopses. I know, you're probably thinking, "Then why did you ask for one if you weren't going to read it? Don't you know writers HATE having to write a synopsis?" Yes, yes I do. But here's the thing. Editors go through submissions rather quickly. I read the query and if the query interests me, I go directly to the opening pages. If you keep my interest, I turn to the synopsis to see how the rest of the story plays out.

So what am I looking for when I read your synopsis? Two things. First, I get that a synopsis is not the most fun thing to write, but keep in mind that you want to keep the editor's attention. So make sure the voice of your story comes through in the synopsis. A trick is to let your MC write the synopsis and then convert it to third person. (This is a great trick for writing your query letter blurb, too!) Also, pretend you are telling a friend about this great book you just read (or movie you just saw), only get spoilery. You have to include the ending in a synopsis, so don't forget to do that. One of the reasons why I look to a synopsis is to see how the story will carry from the conflict to some sort of resolution. If there isn't a resolution in your synopsis, I'll assume you haven't resolved the conflict in the book either. You don't want me to assume that.

Synopses don't have to be horrific things that writers should fear. Have fun with them and make them be another way you can get an editor interested in that amazing story you just had to tell.

*If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in a Writer Wednesday post, feel free to leave it in the comments.*

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10. Writer Wednesday: Do Editors Google Authors?

Today's topic comes courtesy of Miss Leandra Wallace. Leandra wants to know if editors check out an author's site if they are interested in their work.

Why, yes. Yes, we do. :) If I really love a submission, I definitely get curious about the author. So I look them up. What am I looking for? Well, I want to see that you are active on social media. That could mean a lot of things though. Some authors like to have websites that include any books published, a bio, and little more. Some are all over social media: Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, you name it. Others just blog and leave it at that. Basically what I'm looking for is that you are willing to interact with readers and you have a place for readers to find you and contact you.

So don't feel you need to join every social media site out there. Actually, don't. I'd rather see a writer join a few and be interactive than be on a ton of sites and never post. So choose what works for you and do that well.

Now if I can't find an author, this would prompt me to ask him/her about his/her online presence. It doesn't mean a definite pass on a manuscript, but I'd need to know that the author is willing to build an online platform—and well before the book's potential release date.

*If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in a Writer Wednesday post, feel free to leave it in the comments.*

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11. Writer Wednesday: How Long Does It Take Editors to Decide to Acquire a Book?

Today's topic comes courtesy of Johnell DeWitt. Johnell wants to know how long it takes an editor to make a decision after they've requested and read a manuscript.

For me, it's immediate. I have to love a book to take it on. I stop reading a submission when I realize I'm not in love with it. That means if I make it to the end, I loved it. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to send off an offer right away though. At this point I know I want the book, but the next question is how does the book fit into the current line for Seek? The book has to be a good fit for the company. If it is, then I'm ready to offer. If it's not...

Two things could happen at this point. I could regretfully pass on a great book because it's too similar to another title or doesn't fit the line for another reason (like maybe the word count is a lot higher than Seek's other titles). Or, I might email the author to see if they are willing to make changes to have the book fit our line better. Now, the author might not want to make the changes (which is totally fine), and at that point, I wish him/her luck in finding a home for the book. If the author is willing to make the changes, I'm ready to offer a contract.

So, that's what it looks like on the other side of my submissions desk after I read a manuscript. I'm sure other editors might have a different process, but hopefully you find it helpful to hear about mine.

*If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in a Writer Wednesday post, feel free to leave it in the comments.*

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12. Writer Wednesday: Should You Say Thank You?

Today's topic comes courtesy of Rick Starkey. Rick wants to know if it's too much clutter for an editor's inbox if an author sends a thank-you after receiving a rejection, especially if it's a personalized rejection.

Now, keep in mind that I can't speak for all editors, but for me, getting thank-you emails from authors kept me going during Seek's open submissions period. I received some that simply said, "thank you for getting back to me so soon," since my typical response time was 24 hours or under. (Yes, I'm insane like that.) These emails mentioned how it was nice to get such a speedy response, even if it wasn't a favorable response. My reaction was that these authors understood how busy an editor is and appreciated that I worked so quickly to get back to them. So, I definitely liked getting these emails.

The other kind of response I got was on personalized rejections. Again, these authors were appreciative of the feedback I offered on their submissions, and a few even mentioned how rare it is to get the feedback. Showing you understand that an editor doesn't have to provide feedback but took the time to do so gets you a big gold star in my book. I really enjoyed reading these emails.

So, it's all good, right? Well, not exactly. Here's the exception. I received a few responses that began as thank-you emails and morphed into "since you were kind enough to offer feedback on this book, I have another I think you'll love" and "can I assume you'd be open to me revising based on your feedback and resubmitting?" 

Let's start with the first one. Now, it was an open submissions period, which means anyone could submit any book to me. There was no need to ask. So this email actually came across as "you see potential in me so I'm letting you know I'm sending you something else that you'll hopefully move up in your slush pile because you like me." Now, maybe that's not what the author intended, but it does come off this way to an editor, so be careful about sounding like you think you deserve special treatment. The second response is also a no-no. If an editor wants you to revise and resubmit, he or she will tell you that. Otherwise, consider it feedback to help you get the manuscript ready to send out to other editors.

If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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13. Writer Wednesday: Time For Another Confession

It's been a while since I've made a confession, so here it is. As much as I love writing, this industry makes me sad. I see authors I love go from being on bestseller lists to not selling well. The question I ask is why? Where are the readers? And when I go into a store and have to spend at least $5 on a greeting card, I can't help but think, "I'd rather buy a book." Most ebooks are so much cheaper than greeting cards, yet ebooks aren't selling like I'd hoped they would.

The bottom line is that it's really tough to be an author today. You have to love what you do and let that carry you through each day. I often remind myself that I choose to write for me and not to trends. I have a loyal fan base and I love them. Will I ever achieve my big dreams as a writer? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's not why I write. I write because it's who I am. I've been a writer since I could hold a pencil. So that's what I'll continue to do. Even on the days when I feel like crying. Even on the days when I question if anyone will ever read the book I'm pouring hours, days, and months into. And I'll continue to hope that the readers come and that they treasure the written word as much as I do.

*Remember: If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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14. Writer Wednesday: Authors Are Crazy

At YA Fest last weekend, I met a reader who made a very interesting comment about writers. My table mate and I were talking about how we always get nervous we'll mess up someone's name when signing a book to them. (I always confirm spellings, no matter how common the name, for this reason.) This reader laughed and said that before she attended any author signings she thought authors were these people who were nearly perfect and regular people couldn't talk to. 

Then she laughed and said, "But you guys are all crazy. You have to be with everything you go through to get a book published." I laughed too, because she's right. We are in a tough field. One that means constant rejection at every stage. In a way, we are crazy for putting ourselves through it. 

I loved that this reader understood how tough it really is. She admitted that she's become friends with several authors so she hears about the process and knows the level of difficulty. I really wish more readers did.

So here's to us, the crazy writers who keep going despite all the rejection. And here's to the readers who truly get us.

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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15. Writer Wednesday: Time Management Tricks and Tips for Summer

June is an editing month for me. I have four client edits scheduled. Yes, I'm a crazy woman. On top of that I have critiquing for Rate Your Story and editing for Leap Books. I also know I'm getting edits on my 2016 title with Spencer Hill Press, Fading Into the Shadows soon. So how do I fit it all in, especially when Thursday is my daughter's last day of school before she's home with me for the summer?

I thought I'd share some of my tips and tricks for making extra time in the day. Here's a few ways I try to carve out extra writing and/or editing time:
  • Get Up Early  There's so much to be said for being the only one awake. It's quiet and there are no distractions.
  • Even Ten Stolen Minutes Can Be Devoted to Working  If my daughter decides to play on the iPad for ten minutes, I get my laptop and get as much done as I can in that time. Ten minutes might not seem worth it, but trust me, if you take ten minutes here and there, it adds up.
  • Work During Commercials  At night, I like to watch TV before bed, because I'm usually busy working all day. So I kick my feet up and relax. But…I hate commercials. So, I bring my laptop to the couch and I work during commercial breaks.
  • Work Outside  My daughter loves to be outside, but the second the neighbors come out, I'm old news. She ditches me to play with them. I bring my laptop on my deck so I can keep an eye on her and get my work done.
  • Only Use Social Media for a Few Minutes at a Time and Only on My Phone  We all know that social media is part of what we do. You can't avoid it if you want to build a platform. But…you can make sure you limit your time on it. I use my phone with the speech to text feature, which is quicker than typing responses on blog posts. I can also steal time, like when my daughter is showering, to post to FB and Twitter, which I have linked so posting to one posts to the other. It's a definite time saver.
  • Designate Daily Work Time  I told my daughter that right after we have breakfast, I need to work in my office for about two hours. That will be her time to play in her room, either with her Monster High dolls or on her laptop. Designating specific time like this establishes a routine for my entire household, which helps me a lot.
Do you have tricks for carving out more time in your day when summer rolls around?

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16. Writer Wednesday: Email Marketing

Today I thought I'd share something I learned about marketing recently. I've heard in the past that email marketing is so important. I thought that just meant expanding your mailing list. While that's very important, it's not ALL email marketing is. Think about this. When your book is chosen for the Kindle Daily Deal, Amazon emails LOADS of people to tell them about your book being on sale. And from that, your ranking gets amazingly good. Why? Email marketing.

So I took that theory and started focusing my efforts on sites that have huge email newsletter lists. I'm talking 70,000+ people. You can advertise your sales in their newsletters for very small fees, which I've found are totally worth it. Why? Because so many people are hearing about your book when they open their email. And these are people who sign up for these emails because they are looking for good sales on books. They are your target audience.

So research some sites that have newsletters like this and consider trying this marketing technique. I'd love to hear if your experience is as good as mine.

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17. Writer Wednesday: Hello, Old Friend

Have you ever put a manuscript aside for a long time—I'm talking months or even years—and then gone back to it? Maybe it's to revise or edit after it was acquired by a publisher, but either way, you've had time away and all the details aren't at the forefront of your mind because you've been writing other things. For me it's like getting to see an old friend again.

This year I finished writing a book I hadn't looked at in a while (because I got busy editing other books), and it made me fall in love with the story again. Next week, I'll be diving into edits on a book that was acquired a while ago. I haven't looked at the manuscript in probably a year, and I'm really excited to go back and visit these characters. I remember having that feeling of "this is the one" when I wrote the book, and I'm hoping I still have that feeling when I get my first round edits from my amazing editor. I'll be sure to let you know. :)

Have you revisited any "old friends" lately? Was it a good experience?

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18. Writer Wednesday: When Organization Becomes Clutter

Okay, so I've been keeping a secret from all of you. I've taken on a new job that I can't quite tell you about yet. My contract is signed and delivered, but I'm waiting for the official announcement to tell you all what it is. 

What I can say is that I've become insanely busy! My writing desk looks like a case of Post-It notes threw up on it. Seriously, I'm talking those big Post-It pads with lines on them stuck EVERYWHERE! My desk has three shelves on it, and they are serving as places to stick my notes. Not to mention the notes covering the actual desk portion where I work.

So what I've realized is that my organization has turned into clutter. If you saw my desk (and no, I'm not going to subject you to pictures of my chaos), you'd think I was the messiest writer ever. But…it works for me because I love crossing things off my notes and then ultimately crumpling them up and tossing them when I've accomplished everything on the notes. That's a good feeling.

I guess in a way, the Post-It notes make me feel like I'm somewhat in control and they give me a sense of accomplishment when I can toss them in the trash.

How do you handle being busier than busy? Do you have an avalanche of Post-Its, too?

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19. Writer Wednesday: Amazon's New Review Policy

I'm sure most of you have seen or heard about how Amazon is removing reviews and not allowing people to review certain books because they believe the reviewer knows the author. If you haven't seen this yet, here is how the notice to the reviewer begins:
“We removed your Customer Reviews because you know the author personally.”
There's another message that says something to the effect of: You are ineligible to review this book...

Authors and reviewers seem to be in an uproar about this. Today, I want to share my feelings on it. As an author, I love reaching out to readers. I have my FB group, Kelly's Coven, and I interact with readers on my FB author page, FB profile page, Twitter, my website, Goodreads, you name it! So does this mean all those people I interact with will no longer be able to post reviews? I highly doubt Amazon will be able to keep track of them all, but I'm sure the number of reviews I have per book will decrease.

So what does this mean? Personally, I don't plan to change anything. Not one thing, because I LOVE talking to readers. Sure, I want reviews because they are important to a book's success. But more than that, I want to have a genuine relationship with my readers. So if I have to sacrifice reviews to keep my readers happy, I will.

I'm not going to stop interacting with anyone who wants to discuss my books with me. I love you all and talking to you is one of my favorite things about being an author.

What do you think about Amazon's new policy?

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20. Writer Wednesday: Grammar Lovers Unite

It's no secret I love grammar. Yes, I'm one of those weird people who enjoys grammar rules—following them and reciting them for others. ;) I grew up with my mother correcting my grammar. I think I had an edge in school because I was so familiar with grammar rules from hearing them at home. So thanks, Mom!

In college I took a grammar course and was probably the only one in my class who actually enjoyed it. My professor even asked me to teach the other students when they had trouble understanding how to convert passive voice to active voice. My trick with grammar is that I come up with my own ways to remember the rules and tricks to correcting common grammatical errors.

Does that mean my manuscripts are free of grammatical errors? I wish! As a writer and editor, I can tell you that editing your own work is impossible. You simply can't catch all your own mistakes. Being that I'm a fast drafter, I make a lot of errors in my first drafts because my fingers are faster than my grammar. ;) But, while some dread revision and fixing their grammar, I love it. Break out the red, purple, and green pens. (Yes, I really do edit in those colors when I'm editing on paper.) Bring on the delete key.

But do you know what I love the most about grammar? Breaking the rules. I know, I know. You're probably thinking, "But, Kelly, you just said you love grammar rules. Why would you break them?" The answer is simple. I write in the first person, which means my narration takes on the MC's voice, just like dialogue takes on the voice of the speaker. And let's be honest. Most people do not speak with perfect grammar. Not even me, a grammar lover. So I get to break the rules while still embracing them. Ah, the beauty of being a writer.

Are there any grammar rules you love to break? Or are there any that you really can't stand?

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21. Writer Wednesday: Big Announcement and Opportunity for Writers

I've been mentioning that I have news to share, and I can finally tell you what it is. I am now an acquisitions editor for Leap Books, Seek. This is the middle grade line for Leap. You can read the announcement on Leap's blog here.

As many of you probably know, I've been working as a copy editor for Leap for about a year now. That means I've had the privilege to work on some great titles from all of Leap's lines—Surge (YA), Shine (YA/NA novellas), and the newly renamed Seek (MG). Seek was formerly known as Frolic, but since the characters in the books seek adventure and don't actually frolic, the name was changed. ;)

Now the news that's good for you. Yes, YOU! I see you. In August, I'm opening up to unagented submissions for a very short period of time. Of course, if you have an agent, you are welcome to submit too. But this is an opportunity for those without representation at the moment, since Seek is usually only open to agented submissions.

So get ready! I'm looking for adventure, mystery, fantasy, and contemporary. And remember, it must be a middle grade title. If you don't want to miss my announcement of when the open submission will take place and where to send your query, follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter where I'll be sure to post the details.

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22. Writer Wednesday: Open Submissions Approaching!

If you read last Wednesday's post, then you know that I'm now the acquisitions editor for Leap Books' middle grade line, Seek. I also mentioned that while Seek is only open to agented submissions I'd be holding an open submissions period in August. Well…

From August 1 to August 14, I'll be accepting unagented submissions. If you have a middle grade title (geared toward tweens) you can query me at kellyhashway.leapbooks@gmail.com. Please make sure your query includes the 

  • Subject line: Open Submission: TITLE OF YOUR BOOK
  • Query in the body of the email
  • synopsis and first three (3) chapters of your book (as Word attachments)

That's it! Please only query me at the Leap Books address above. Queries sent to 
my regular email will be deleted unread.

Not sure if your book is a good fit for Seek? Here's what I'm looking for:

I am looking for immersive middle grade fiction stories of approximately 30-40,000 words, in all genres, with characters that LEAP off the page. Submissions should demonstrate:

  • strong, polished writing

  • engaging and age-appropriate storytelling that will appeal to the target audience

  • solid character development

  • powerful world building

  • an exciting plot

***Preference for mystery, contemporary, and fantasy at this time.***
Good luck!

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23. Writer Wednesday: Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style Are Your Friends

If you subscribe to my newsletter, then you'll remember that last month I mentioned being mindful of different spellings of words depending on how they are being used. Yes, I'm talking about the same word being spelled differently if it's used as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. Crazy, right? That's the English language for you. ;)

Grammar geeks like me, thrive on this stuff, but the typical writer does not. My suggestion is to make Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style your best friends. I always have a tab open to Merriam-Webster to make sure I'm using the proper spelling for words. I also refer to Chicago manual of Style's hyphenation table quite frequently. As an editor, I have to do this because I don't want errors in my clients' books. But all authors should do this. Here's an example of what I mean:

speed dial — This is the noun form. I hit four on my speed dial.
speed-dial — This is the verb form. I speed-dial Trish.

Spell check (Ugh, don't get me started on spell check!) won't catch these mistakes. (Spell check is stupid. It often suggests changes that are incorrect! Oops, there I go again.)

So, if you're unsure of a word—whether to hyphenate it, write it as one word, or write it as two—check Merriam-Webster and Chicago Manual of Style. (Seriously, bookmark both of those pages!) Your editor will love you for it. ;)

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24. Writer Wednesday: The Other Side of the Submissions Desk

While my time on the other side of the submissions desk has been brief so far, I've already learned a lot. And since it's taught me more about being an author on submission, I want to share something very important with you all. Here it is. You don't just want a book contract. You want an editor who LOVES your book every bit as much as you do.

When I first started writing, I had this illusion that all I needed was a contract. Someone who would put my book in print. I was wrong. Obviously, we all strive for book deals, but you shouldn't JUST want a contract. You should want an editor who loves your book so much they have to have it.

I've gotten a lot of submissions during my open submissions period at Seek. I'm talking flooded inbox. I've seen a lot of good manuscripts. Notice I said good. The problem is, I can't offer a contract on a good manuscript. I have to wish I wrote your book because it's that amazing. I have to not be able to get your book out of my mind. I have to keep checking my email to see if you've responded to my offer yet. That's how much I need to love your book.

Why, you ask? I've gotten to work on books at Seek that were acquired before I came on board. Let me tell you how many times I read each book. Oh wait, I lost count. It's a lot. A LOT. If I can't get excited to read your book over and over again, I'm not the right editor for your book. Luckily, the books I've worked on have been books I love. I look forward to reading them countless times, and I love the stories more each time I read them.

Think of your personal book collection. We all have those books we reread time and time again because they hold special places in our hearts and our memories. They're written in, dog-eared, and filled with Post-It notes. Those are the book I offer on. So if I offer on your book, know I will champion it with all I have. That's the editor you want for the book you've poured your heart and soul into. Don't accept anything else, because you don't deserve anything less than that.

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25. Writer Wednesday: Dos and Don'ts of Submitting to Editors

Now that Seek's open submissions period is over, I wanted to share some things I saw on the other side of the submissions desk. I hope you find this helpful.

First, let's start with the negative—things I saw that I wish I hadn't. These are things I beg you not to do when querying. 
  • Queries that didn't follow submission guidelines  I get that every publisher (and agent) tends to have specific submission guidelines and it can be overwhelming for authors, but please take the time to follow them. If you don't, it shows us you don't value our time or our preferences. That's no way to start a relationship with someone.
  • Queries that aren't at all what I'm looking for  I received queries for young adult books and early readers, yet my submission guidelines specifically say I'm looking for middle grade books. Querying with a book that isn't what an editor is looking for is wasting everyone's time, including your own. Besides, who wants an unnecessary rejection?
  • Misspelling the editor's name.  I understand Kelly is both a girl's name and a boy's name; however, a simple Google search brings up only one Kelly Hashway—me. And I have my picture all over the place. I'm not Mr. Hashway. I also got a lot of "Dear Ms. Hathaway" queries. I'm not related to Anne Hathaway or any other Hathaways. If you can't take the time to proofread to ensure you're spelling an editor's name correctly, you're telling me you don't care. That doesn't make me care much in return. :(
  • Replies asking if the author can revise and resubmit  If an editor loves your writing and concept but thinks the book needs work, he/she will tell you to revise and resubmit. Please don't email me and ask if you can—or worse, just assume you can. If I took the time to give you helpful feedback, use it to move forward and get ready for your next submission.
  • Forget to include a query  I kid you not. I received more than one query that didn't have a query letter. They were simply "here's my attached manuscript" messages. I didn't even know what the books were called. If you can't care enough to describe your book to me or even tell me the title, I'm not going to be the least bit excited to read your pages.
Okay, enough negativity. Let's move on to the positives—things I saw and loved. These are the things you should do when querying:
  • Be professional  I had several people who know me from this blog or other social media sites query me and they still addressed me as Ms. Hashway or Mrs. Hashway instead of Kelly. Kudos to you, because even though I was thinking, "Oh yay, INSERT NAME HERE is querying me" I still handle all query letters equally. Yes, I had to pass on queries from people I know, and yes it made me sad. But this is a business and we have to remember that.
  • Appreciate any feedback you get, because it's rare  I got the nicest response from a pass. I didn't know this person at all, but they responded to my pass to thank me for getting back to them in such a timely manner and for offering helpful feedback. I'm not going to lie. I got a few others like this one and they kept me going when my inbox was spilling over. This showed me these people get it. They get how busy editors are and appreciate that an editor took the time to offer feedback when it's not mandatory. These are people I'll remember if they cross my inbox again.
Okay, there are other things you should do, but I think you can figure them out from my list of things you shouldn't do. Do you have any query tips to add to my list? Feel free to share in the comments.

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